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23 June 2022

The UK economy has fallen far behind the EU since Brexit

Britain’s GDP per head has grown just 3.8 per cent since the referendum, while the EU’s has grown by 8.5 per cent.

By Ben van der Merwe

Six years on from the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the British economy is trailing far behind its European rivals. 

Per capita income has grown by 3.8 per cent in real terms since the second quarter of 2016, when the vote took place, compared with 8.5 per cent growth in the EU, according to figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The difference has become most pronounced since the UK formally left the EU in January 2020, a period which also coincided with the emergence of Covid-19. Both the UK and EU were hit hard by the pandemic, but the EU’s recovery has been more robust. As of the last quarter of 2021, the UK’s GDP per head was 0.2 per cent lower than before the pandemic. The EU’s, by contrast, had grown by 1.5 per cent.

Yesterday (22 June) a report by the Resolution Foundation think tank found that Brexit had damaged the UK’s competitiveness, reducing productivity growth and eroding real wage growth. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the minister for Brexit opportunities, dismissed the report as a “regurgitation of Project Fear”, and told HuffPost that the government did not plan to undertake any economic assessments of whether Brexit has been a success.

[See also: Voters now think Brexit was a mistake, but do they want to reverse it?]

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This post was updated to account for a subsequent revision of the OECD's PPP estimates.

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